Navy Captain Niyi Labinjo (rtd) yesterday assumed the mantle of leadership of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA) as he formally took over from founding Chairman, Chief Isaac Jolapamo.
The inauguration of the new NISA President and other executives held at Rockview Hotel, Apapa with the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello as Chairman of the event. However, the two presidential aspirants who contested against Labinjo in the election, Mr. Temisan Omatseye and Engr. Greg Ogbeifun were conspicously absent. Also absent were the newly elected first Vice President, Mrs. Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi, second Vice President Aminu Umar and Port Harcourt Coordinator, Emi Membere-Otaji.
It would be recalled that Emeka Ndu who was elected Lagos coordinator, resigned less than a week after the election held on October 24, 2014. Membere-Otaji had also hinted that he might not be able to serve on team.
Delivering his inaugural speech yesterday, Labinjo said the task of the new executive would be to consolidate and also to bring back the jobs of shipowners.
“The consolidation that the new executives of the association will bring about will be such that our jobs taken up by foreign shipowners will be brought back and Nigerian shipowners henceforth will provide shipping services, ancillary and associated maritime services to the Nigerian oil and gas community.
“This task is going to pitch us against those who are benefiting from the domination of our maritime space by foreign shipping services providers who will not like to see a change in the status quo even if it means undermining or breaking Nigerian laws,” he said.
Labinjo said his leadership is prepared to protect the maritime economy of Nigeria and investment of its members.
“After all, Nigeria is the only country where we can undertake the shipping services as the Greeks and Indians or Americans will not admit us to come near their coasts to share in what is reserved exclusively for their citizens,” he stated.
Labinjo who was the former secretary General of NISA pleaded with Ogbeifun, Omatseye and other aggrieved members of the association to put the contentious election behind them.
“I will like to appeal to our members particularly my good friend and brother who I have a great admiration for, Gregory Ogbeifun, the Chairman of Starz Group to please join me in the new effort to rid our waters of usurpers.
“The same appeal goes to Temisanren Omatseye, the vibrant and ebullient executive chairman of Polmaz Shipping Limited whose participation in the NISA election added glamour and colour to the exercise. We shall require your respective experiences and reach in the task of bringing our jobs back,” he stated.
Immediate past Chairman of the association, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, in his speech, said that the association would ensure the growth of the shipping industry to create job opportunities.
He said that gone were the days when the forces of domination undermined the cabotage and local content regimes that were meant to improve the lives of industry operators.
“We have come out of the trenches with better determination to secure our maritime industry that is capable of reducing our dependency on oil and create jobs,” he said.
He recalled that the Nigerian flag was flown with pride all over the world by Nigerian-owned vessels that carried Nigerian cargoes and crewed by Nigerian seafarers.
He said the Nigerian maritime industry was the envy of nations, adding that there was assurance for transportation of cargoes by local ships with shipyards designed for ship repair and ship building.
According to Jolapamo, the situation changed negatively when foreign companies dominated the nation’s maritime industry.
He said that the foreign companies were against the idea of indigenous ownership and management of ships in order to ensure continued foreign dominance of Nigeria’s maritime trade.
Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello who chaired the event, said the revival of the national carrier was very key to the growth of the economy.
Bello called on the new president of NISA, Capt. Niyi Labijo, to ensure that the issue of revival of the national career was re-visited.